Grandfather’s and Mother’s Service Inspired His Career
One in an ongoing series.
First his grandfather in April, then his mother in September, and then his grandmother died in February. Within a single year, 2016, Tejas Parikh, MD, had experienced incredible loss.
His grandfather had been the patriarch of their family and a pillar of their community. Despite only obtaining an eighth-grade education and being orphaned at 16, his grandfather had gone on to found the only college and hospital in his Indian village. His values had inspired Dr. Parikh to seek out a career in medicine, and later to create a foundation in his family’s name.
“My grandfather had devoted his life to helping those less fortunate. He instilled that ideal in all of his grandchildren,” says Dr. Parikh. “I wanted to do something to continue the legacy.”
Dr. Parikh, 38, an anesthesiologist at Einstein Healthcare Network, recently was selected by the Pennsylvania Medical Society as a “Top Physician Under 40.” Dr. Parikh’s honor from the medical society cited his “outstanding contributions to the practice of medicine.” Clearly, his contributions extend beyond the hospital corridors.
His mother, Mita Dharia, passed away at only 64 years old, worried about her family and others until the end. Dr. Parikh worked intermittently and then took leave from Einstein in her final months battling ovarian cancer.
“She thrived for eight years despite all the hurdles and side effects. The doctor used her as an example of someone with advanced cancer who somehow made it to weekly Zumba workouts. When she died, it was hard on me, hard on our whole family,” he says. Her mother, Dr. Parikh’s grandmother, passed only six months later.
Dr. Parikh established the R.L. and Mita Dharia Family Foundation in their spirit and name. “Given the way that my grandparents helped people less fortunate in India and my mom did here in the U.S.– I started the foundation,” Parikh says.
The foundation has distributed more than $100,000 – money he’s contributed himself and pooled from family and friends – to improving women’s health through ovarian cancer research and Planned Parenthood, and to enhancing the quality of life for those facing illness through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation has sponsored one young girl’s dream to swim with dolphins and another child’s trip to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Orlando.
Dr. Parikh has another family that has helped sustain him – the team of anesthesiologists he works with at Einstein. Dr. Parikh came to Einstein in 2011 and was soon joined by his friends from residency. Many of them trained and worked together as residents at another Philadelphia hospital, and were recruited here in recent years.
“I’ve been lucky to work with people I can call friends,” he says. “We are dedicated to what we do and then hang out outside of work” he says.
Dr. Parikh says becoming a physician is also part of the legacy of his mission-driven family. He describes how his department adeptly cares for patients who are part of the underserved population catered to by Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. “Many of them come in and they’re extremely sick. We’re very good at taking care of people who wouldn’t do as well in a lot of other institutions,” he says.
“My grandparents and my mom were a very strong presence in our family’s life,” he says. “They were our moral compass. We’re just trying to live up to the standards they set for us all.”